Support Oscar’s Recovery

This past Friday night, a member our Comal family was brutally assaulted while returning home after his shift at work. Oscar Castaneda has been an important member of our line cook team for the past 2 years, bringing both valued skills and a smile to the job nightly.

After exiting the Ashby BART station, and only one block away from his apartment, two armed men jumped Oscar from behind, savagely punched and kicked him, robbed him of his possessions, discharged a bullet into the back of his neck and left him for dead. Oscar didn’t even know what had hit him. By a stroke of luck, the bullet lodged behind his ear while missing his spine, arteries and other vital organs. Thankfully there was a swift response from Berkeley police and paramedics that were called to the scene by concerned neighbors. Oscar received great care and after one day, has already been discharged from the hospital to begin what is expected to be a swift and complete recovery.

We often talk at lineup about the dangers that restaurant and bar workers face, leaving work late at night and alone, and the importance of having extra awareness of one’s surroundings when heading home. We’ve since learned that there were two similar assaults committed the previous Thursday night in the area around the Ashby BART station. It appears that the same two perpetrators have been preying on pedestrians that leave the station on foot alone at night. While Oscar has been told by the Berkeley Police that they know who the criminals are, they are as of now still not in custody.

It appears that Oscar was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Any of those among us in the restaurant and bar industry that work similar hours could have found ourselves targeted under similar circumstances, and perhaps not have been so lucky. It will be difficult for Oscar to overcome the psychological trauma, but he is committed to resuming the routine of his life prior to this shocking disruption. In regards to the more mundane hurdles, we are asking the restaurant community to help us rally around Oscar. He was stripped of his knife roll, backpack, phone and the contents of his wallet including a few hundred dollars, and is now facing some daunting medical bills to add insult to injury. We have set up a Go Fund Me page in his name, with the hopes that our restaurant industry friends will recognize that “there, but for the grace of God, go they”, and that they will help to lighten the burden for Oscar as he puts his life back together.